SB 10 Protest Draws Hundreds to Fashion Valley

| July 30, 2023 | 0 Comments
Protesters lined both sides of Friars Road near SR 163 to voice their opposition to the possible implementation of SB 10 as part of the city’s Housing Action 2.0 plan.

San Diego, CA – A concerned and enthusiastic crowd of several hundred San Diego residents gathered along Friars Road near the east end of Fashion Valley on Saturday, July 29, to protest the possible implementation of SB 10 during an upcoming vote of the San Diego Planning Commission. The event was the culmination of efforts by an alliance of groups around the city to bring attention to a decision that could seriously impact the livability of neighborhoods. Participants waved signs and called out to drivers of passing cars, many of whom honked back in support, during the two-hour rally.

San Diego, CA – SB 10 Rally 2023.7.29

Senate Bill (SB) 10, which was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsome in September 2021, provides cities with the ability to zone certain areas for denser developments of up to 10 units on a single parcel. This can be done in designated “transit-rich areas” or “urban infill sites” if the local legislative body passes a resolution to adopt the plan. The San Diego Planning Commission will take a final vote on the city’s Housing Action Package 2.0 on Thursday, August 3, which would include the implementation of SB 10. As currently written, the plan would reportedly waive impact and permit fees that normally go towards infrastructure and would not require any dedicated parking for residents. 

Bonnie Kutch, a University City resident and the founder of UC Neighbors for Responsible Growth, is Lead Citywide Rally Organizer of San Diegans for Responsible Growth, the sponsors of the rally. An organizer of an earlier progressive city-wide protest on May 6, Kutch explained that there was a need to bring members of the communities involved to a single location as a show of strength and opposition. The participating community groups are not opposed to development, per se, but to what they see as unplanned or poorly planned development.

Bonnie Kutch, Founder of UC PEEPS and Lead Citywide Organizer for No on SB 10

“SB 10 would be the biggest neighborhood killer we’ve ever seen,” said Kutch when asked about her concerns. “We strive to be the City of Villages, with our own signs, our own identity, our own culture, our own vibe, our own pride.” She pointed out that SB 10 would allow the construction of buildings “completely out of scale and out of character with the neighborhoods” they were erected in. Instead of implementing SB 10, Kutch would like to see sound planning that employs design principles where growth is balanced with projected population, where there are guaranteed affordable housing policies, and where the natural canopy is preserved to meet the city’s own climate action goals.

Protecting the integrity of neighborhoods was also one of the reasons that brought resident Trevor Gamble to the rally. “If people want to live in a downtown high-rise area, go for it,” he said, “but people should be able to live in a residential single-family area without the fear that in the next year or two they’ll have five-story condo buildings all around them.”

L: Trevor Gamble, San Diego resident R: Ellis California Jones, Candidate for District 3 City Council

One of the selling points that has been touted in favor of the city opting into SB 10 is affordable housing. However, this was also one of the points most vocally contradicted by protesters. Ellis California Jones, a candidate for the District 3 Seat on the San Diego City Council, explained that developers are able to avoid including affordable units by paying a penalty, which goes into a trust fund for affordable housing. “Basically they’re giving these developers an out to not build the affordable units which they’re telling the residents of San Diego that’s the main reason they’re trying to build these units,” he said. Jones also suggested that minority communities are being used to help push through the plan, with no long-term benefits for these communities.

Kutch echoed this concern, pointing out that in many cases these apartments would be constructed in neighborhoods where developers could not build any affordable units. “It doesn’t pencil out for developers. The Mayor is trying to make a connection between affordable housing and housing the homeless, and these housing initiatives, but there’s no connection there,” she said.

Amy Reichert, the only candidate for District 4 County Supervisor to oppose SB 10, joined protesters along Friars Road.

“We have a housing crisis,” said District 4 County Supervisor candidate Amy Reichert, the only candidate opposed to SB 10. “When you bulldoze single family homes, and in their place put 10-unit apartment complexes that are just for rent, you eliminate the opportunity for people to buy.” She explained that one of the main reasons she hears for people leaving the county is the inability to buy a single-family home rather than a condominium, or being relegated to renting forever. “People are going to continue to flee the county searching for someplace they can raise their families that’s affordable and safe.”

“We are fighting for the next generation because this whole agenda that the Mayor has is going to wipe out homes for the younger generation, who might think it’s kind of cool to live in an apartment and take transit,” said Kutch. “But when they grow up and get married and have children, they’re going to want homes with backyards where kids can thrive.”

Protesters wave signs along Friars Road calling for San Diego to not approve implementations of SB 10.

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Category: Architecture, Government, Housing, Local News, Politics

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I am a long-time educator, writer and editor. I have taught English from middle school through community and technical college at public, private and charter institutions. Over the years I have also been a writer for sports and news organizations as well as a photojournalist. Currently I am the English Department Chair at a charter middle school and the writer/editor for a local media company.